Knowledge is Power
‘Knowledge is Power’ is a campaign that wants to inspire peer-to-peer communication about the importance of education for young Roma in Hungary and empower them to excel. This project is also an excellent example of representing the Roma community in “another” and rarely seen way.
“Slam poetry is such genre that is very popular among the youth and includes a wide variety of people on the grounds that it reaches out more social layers in society at the same time”, says Kristóf Horváth, one of main slammers in Hungary, and who is the artistic director of the project. “It’s a really powerful tool to create a community”, he continues.
This community might exist in some places in Hungary but discrimination against Roma people and even segregation is still noticeable here and there. Most of the time the media coverage just worsens the situation, especially in rural areas.
“In the rural area the Roma communities are more vulnerable than the non-Roma communities”, says Vera who has participated in the project. She’s also mentioned that the majority of the Roma youth in Hungary isn’t provided by great educational standards. Answering the question of the importance of being part of this project Mizó’s added that “the number of those who, for instance, get into the higher education is really low because they don’t have the opportunity or there is nothing that motivates them”.
According to the statistics of 2011, 315,583 people identified themselves as Roma, which means the Roma community is the largest minority group in Hungary. This number will probably increase in the future so will the number of Roma children and young people who have to face stereotypes day by day, which sometimes hinders them to prove themselves to both the society and themselves, to prove that they are capable of doing anything.
Horváth’s aim with the project reflects upon this phenomenon: “My aim with the programme was to meet talented and committed young people from the entire country whom we can empower and involve in the slammer’s community, so they can be role models for other kids who live in their surroundings. The process has started up, and it’s pleasure to see that the applicants open up more and more.”
Cris is one of the role models. He admits he wasn’t always interested in studying “but, luckily, there were people who help him realize there is another way so now it’s [his] turn to help”. While he and Mizó are fairly optimistic about the success of the programme, Vera is fairly pessimistic, though she finds it a good initiative but she thinks, “it is needed more than that”. In any case, it’s a good starting point.
The campaign was launched in February on YouTube and is supported by the Roma Education Fund (REF), which was created in the framework of the Decade of Roma Inclusion in 2005. Its mission and ultimate goal is to close the gap in educational outcomes between Roma and non-Roma.
The article was originally written for the course Minority Realities in the News organized by Minority Rights Group International.
Originally published at www.humanamagazin.eu.